West Chicago church members vow to continue immigration hunger strike

With seven of the original 15 hunger strikers still standing, members of West Chicago's Faith, Life and Hope Mission say they are prepared to continue their now 11-day fast until Republican Rep. Peter Roskam backs away from his support for repealing two immigration programs.

Speaking Thursday at the church at 900 E. Roosevelt Road, the Rev. Jose Landaverde called on Roskam, of Wheaton, to oppose recent threats by President Donald Trump to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status programs.

"This is our community, and we will continue to sacrifice and put our lives on the line to protect our community," Landaverde said, flanked by seven church members who say they have survived on only water since July 24.

DACA is designed to protect eligible immigrant children from deportation and give them a work permit as long as they were younger than 31 on June 15, 2012, and came to the United States before their 16th birthday. It is unclear whether Trump will keep the program in place as part of his immigration overhaul efforts.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, TPS is a designation that can be given to nationals from countries affected by war, natural disaster, epidemic or "other extraordinary and temporary conditions." Once granted TPS, a person cannot be removed from the U.S. and is eligible for an employment authorization document.

"I am a single father with a daughter in college," said hunger strike participant Mauro Navarro, a citizen of Nicaragua. "Without TPS, my family will fall apart and I will have no way to work and support my family."

Landaverde and his church members, including Luis Pelayo, founder of the Hispanic Council of Chicago, also are asking Roskam to install a Hispanic community liaison in his office to keep the congressman informed of issues related to the community.

They met with Roskam for about 45 minutes Thursday evening at his West Chicago office.

In an emailed statement, Roskam called the meeting a "warm and productive conversation."

"I was pleased to have the opportunity to share my view that in order to have a politically sustainable solution to these issues, the public will need to have confidence that the border is secure," Roskam wrote. "And then we can transition to the questions of a guest-worker program and addressing those that are already here."

Landaverde did not immediately return calls seeking comment following the meeting.

  The Rev. Jose Landaverde, far right, and others are on the 11th day of a hunger strike to protest proposed Trump administration immigration policies. Bev Horne/
  A sign at Faith, Life and Hope Mission in West Chicago. Bev Horne/
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